Under the Dome

January 27, 2014

NAACP and others say McCrory blocking discovery in elections lawsuit

Voters and organizations challenging the 2013 elections-law changes contend in federal court documents that Gov. Pat McCrory has not turned over information in a timely manner.

Voters and organizations challenging the 2013 elections-law changes contend in federal court documents that Gov. Pat McCrory has not turned over information in a timely manner.

The state NAACP, League of Women Voters of North Carolina, American Civil Liberties Union, the U.S. government and others filed documents in federal court late last week asking the court to compel McCrory and N.C. elections officials to turn over documents related to the new law. They have asked for a hearing in federal court next week to discuss the matter.

The request comes after 13 N.C. lawmakers have asked for the quashing of subpoenas seeking email and other correspondence related to the recent transformation of North Carolina's election process.

In seeking an order to compel the governor to turn over information asked for almost two months ago, the NAACP and other organizations contend that the governor and others are "engaged in an ongoing and calculated attempt to block discovery."

"These games must end," the plaintiffs said in court documents.

Attorneys for NC lawmakers have argued in telephone conferences with a U.S. District Court magistrate judge and in court documents that legislative immunity protects them from having to turn over their correspondence and other documents exchanged during the crafting of the expansive election-law changes.

The U.S. judge, though, did not side with the lawmakers and ordered the exchange of information. For information that the lawmakers and governor contend are not public, the judge said they must seek a protective order, a request that would be weighed in court.

A federal judge has scheduled a hearing in the summer to weigh a request for delaying the contested 2013 amendments from going into effect before the 2014 elections. The trial on the amendments is not scheduled to take place until 2015.

Starting in 2016, voters will have to show one of eight state authorized photo IDs to vote. Student IDs will not work.

Voters without a valid ID will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, but to have it count, they must go to the elections board within six days (nine in presidential elections) and show a valid ID.

Other provisions being challenged in federal and state lawsuits include:

• Cutting the early voting period by one week, though county election boards will be required to provide the same number of hours for early voting.
• Eliminating straight-ticket voting. Candidates will appear on the ballot in alphabetical order by party – beginning with the party whose nominee for governor received the most votes in the most recent election.
• Doing away with a provision that allowed people to register and vote on the same day.
• Discontinuing a measure that had allowed voters who showed up at the wrong precinct to cast a vote with a provisional ballot.

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